On display

This item is on display at Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum

Where is it from?

Association locations map

Tags

Add your own tags:
Separate multiple tags using a comma

Similar items over time

Plate - Coles Book Arcade, circa 1886 Object Reg. No: SH 980512

Summary:
Alternative Name(s): Advertising Promotional Item

Commemorative plate made to advertise Coles Book Arcade in Melbourne, made in the late 19th century (originally dated to 1875-1880, but Cole didn't open his main Arcade until 1883, so it probably dates from later than that). The small earthenware plate has an image of the two-storied Book Arcade with customers browsing and reading. The words of a five-verse 'Song of the Book Arcade' (sung to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb'), are printed around the plate. There is also a five-coloured rainbow, the symbol of the Cole's Book Arcade.

According to Cole Turnley, E.W. Cole travelled to London in 1886 and attended the opening of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. He subsequently conducted a spending spree at 'most of the potteries of England' and planned a new 'Ornament Exhibition' for the Arcade. He ordered large stocks of 'a child's plate with a rainbow and a view of the Arcade and the Song of the Book Arcade on it' as well as a child's mug advertising the Ornament Exhibition (Cole of the Book Arcade, 1974, p.89 & 92). It seems likely that this plate was acquired during this time.

Cole's Book Arcade opened in the Bourke Street Mall in 1883, after earlier operating from other sites. It was a shop like no other, crammed with new and second-hand books and other wares, but with the atmosphere of a circus. Cole enticed customers of all ages with a menagerie and fernery, a band, a clockwork symphonion and other mechanical delights. Readers could sit in comfortable chairs, encouraged by a sign: 'Read for as Long as You Like - Nobody Asked to Buy'. The Arcade's proprietor, Edward William Cole, was optimist and idealist, believing passionately in the power of education and envisaged a world without borders, expounding his views in pamphlets and books. Cole died in 1918, still dreaming of a better future. Cole's Book Arcade, one of the wonders of 'marvellous Melbourne', closed in 1929.
Description:
Small earthenware plate with an image of the two-storied Book Arcade with customers browsing and reading. The words of a five-verse 'Song of the Book Arcade' (sung to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb'), are printed around the plate. There is also a five-coloured rainbow, the symbol of the Cole's Book Arcade. Verse 1 is in the central part of the plate; the four other verses are on the rim. Each verse is separated from the other by the image of an open book.

The plate is stained as if some of the iron in the earthenware has leached through. There is no maker's mark.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 8.00 cm (Diameter)

More information

Tagged with: advertising, booksellers, literacy, retailing
Themes this item is part of: Edward William Cole, Bookseller (1832-1918), Cole's Book Arcade Collection, Childhood & Youth Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: COMMERCE & RETAILING
Secondary Classification: Department Stores
Tertiary Classification: advertising
Inscriptions: Text: Song of the Book Arcade/ (Tune: Mary had a little lamb)/ Cole's Book Arcade Cole's Book Arcade/ It is in Melbourne town/ Of all the book stores in this land/ It has the most renown/ 2. It was the first first book arcade/That in the world was found/ Tis still the finest book arcade/ In all the world around. / 3. A lovely rainbow sign appears/ Above the book arcade/ And 'tis the very grandest sign/ Was ever yet displayed./ 4. A million, yes! a million books/ Are stored within its walls/ Which can be seen looked at or bought/ By anyone that calls. / 5. The book you wish the book you want/ Is almost sure to be/ Found somewhere in the book arcade/ If you will call and see. '
Commissioned By: Cole's Book Arcade, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, circa 1886

Comments

Jennifer Posted on 12 Apr 2012 3:33 PM
Hello, You give the dimensions of this plate as 8.0 cm. It should read 18.0 cm. Regards, j

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.

Similar items

Yes No